Social marketing and value in behaviour? Perceived value of using energy efficiently among low income older citizens

Katherine Butler*, Ross Gordon, Kate Roggeveen, Gordon Waitt, Paul Cooper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


PurposeDrawing on value theory, this study aims to explore the perceived value of using energy efficiently amongst a low-income older population group. It aims to provide an empirical exploration of the concept of value-in-behaviour, and, in doing so, identify that it is a logical addition to the extant concepts of value-in-exchange and value-in-use. Design/methodology/approachExploratory focus group research was conducted to explore older, low-income people’s perceived value towards using energy efficiently in the contexts of their everyday lives. The research was conducted in regional New South Wales, Australia, with 11 focus groups of 59 people (40 females, 19 males) aged over 60 with a personal disposable income below $26,104 per annum. FindingsUsing this framework, functional, economic and ecological value appeared to be the most pertinent value dimensions for using energy efficiently, while social or emotional value was less relevant. Attention is drawn to how value in using energy efficiently emerges within the everyday contingencies and constraints configured by individual households’ financial, social, material and cultural contexts. These findings suggest that programmes in this area and with similar target groups would benefit from trying to promote and co-create such value. Originality/valueThe present study provides empirical evidence that consumers in a social marketing context appear to perceive value-in-behaviour in relation to using energy efficiently. This approach inspires social marketers to foster individual behaviour change through a better understanding of how value is created in everyday practices. This builds upon existing work on value in social marketing and suggests that value is an important concept that warrants continued theoretical, empirical and practical exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-168
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social Marketing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Energy efficiency
  • Focus groups
  • Low-income
  • Older consumers
  • Social marketing
  • Social practices
  • Value theory
  • Value-in-behaviour
  • Value-in-use


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